Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $117,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $117,000 salary
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Our Cash Confessional series, in partnership with Bank of America, takes a personal and anonymous look into how people of all ages and incomes spend their money in the span of seven days.

To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here. This series is completely volunteer-based; if you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email Kylie at [email protected]. This week, I spoke with a couple in their mid-twenties that makes a combined $117,000 per year. Here’s how they spend their money.

The basics:


Him – Marketing Analyst
Her – Senior Web Designer


Him – $62,000
Her – $55,000

Extra income:

Him – $200-300 per month for drumming
Her – ~$1,200 a year from freelancing

Savings: We both put $500 each into our savings a month (~15% of our paychecks). At the end of each month, we budget our extra income we didn’t spend into savings as well, which is around $700 a month for a lot of travel plans coming up this year (we’re at the age where literally everyone we know is getting married). That means we save about $1,700 a month and both put 4% of our paychecks into separate 401(k)s, which both companies match. He puts an additional 2% into a separate Roth IRA account.


Him – 25
Her – 24

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,225 ($979 base rent, $89 tech package, which includes internet and cable, $32 valet waste, $110 garage, $15 pet rent)
Number of roommates: 1 tiny cute puppy
Neighborhood: Ballantyne
Utilities: $80-110 per month
Student loans: We’re trying to put way more than necessary toward these to get them over with! Only 3 more years left… sigh.

Him – $500
Her – $400

Car payments:

Him – $339
Her – $200

Car insurance: $106.72 per month for the both of us
Transportation costs: We budget $50 a week on gas, so monthly, that’s ~$200 on gas.
Phone bill: $76 for our AT&T family plan, but it’s covered through her work.
MoviePass: $10. Get on the MoviePass train immediately.
Netflix: $10.71
Pet insurance: $30 (+1 Millennial Point)
Spotify + Apple Music: $26. Literally only because Spotify isn’t supported on Apple Watches, but Spotify is objectively better. Don’t judge.
Creative Cloud: $21.44
Drum lessons: $100

Our total monthly expenses are approximately $3,000, leaving us with about $4,000 net income to save and spend on discretionary income like groceries, going out, shopping, etc.

Three financial goals:

Save money so we can travel internationally at least once a year.

Pay off all student loans by the end of 2021 so we can be debt free! Her student loans will be paid off in 2 years and then they’ll put that same amount toward his student loans. At $900 a month, that should pay off his in just a year. For full transparency, he graduated with $36,000 in loans and she had $24,000.

Build up our savings enough so that we can buy a house in Q3 of 2019 and still have a substantial amount left in our savings in case of an emergency. So, by the end of 2019, have $15,000 for a down payment, and around $10,000 for extra costs/savings. Our $1,000 a month into savings should cover this, assuming we don’t need to take money out of our savings for anything.

Bonus (long term) goal, be mindful about retirement savings. We want to retire in our late 50’s.

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week

Day one: Sunday

We had leftover breakfast casserole from Saturday, then we went out to get coffee and bagels for lunch ($10.92) and filled up her car with gas ($18.81).

For dinner, we made homemade pizza and already had all the ingredients in our pantry so it was “free”!

We normally meal plan for the whole week on Sunday and then go out to buy groceries. This week, we bought stuff to make 3 dinners: pasta e fagioli with salad, Mostaccioli with Vodka Sauce and stuffed peppers. It all sounds fancier than it really is – our dinners usually involve crock pots.

We also bought cereal, greek yogurt, blueberries, clementines, milk, cleaning supplies, coffee, salad dressing, flour and canned tomatoes to stock the pantry, and, of course, the new Sam Adams 76 beer (had to try it). All of this was $74.70.

Typically we spend around $100, but luckily we had a lot of frozen meats leftover from previous weeks.

Total spent: $104.43

Day two: Monday

He ate Honey Bunches of Oats for breakfast (the usual for the past 2 years) and she ate Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries. They both had leftover pizza for lunch, and for dinner, he made stuffed peppers.

Total spent: $0 (woo!)

Day three: Tuesday

He ate Honey Bunches of Oats and she ate Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries for breakfast. Spoiler: This happens for literally the rest of the week, so this is the last time we’ll say it.

They both had leftover stuffed peppers for lunch.

She ran to Harris Teeter to buy an encouragement card for her bible study and also bought a bag of popcorn and bottle of wine for tonight’s cooking class. $19.27

Speaking of, we purchased 2 spots for a cooking class with Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen for Valentine’s Eve! We bought them back in December, so we technically spent $0 on them today.

We went to Hyde brewing after the class and he had a beer and she had a glass of malbec. $16.53

The creative cloud license got taken out today. $21.44

Total spent: $57.24

Day four: Wednesday

She picked up their dog from overnight boarding, since their cooking class was all evening plus they went out for drinks after ($42). For those of you keeping track at home, that’s +2 Millennial Points so far.

He had a PB+J sandwich for lunch, for which we already had the ingredients in our pantry. She made vegan mac and cheese from a box and it was NOT good. Never again. For those of you that are lactose intolerant, it’s more worth it to just eat the normal stuff and suffer.

He made Pasta e Fagioli for dinner, which was a huge recipe, so we’ll definitely have leftovers for awhile.

Total spent: $42

Day five: Friday

They both had leftover soup for lunch, and again with salad for dinner.

He bought flowers for her for $8.58. I am not ashamed to wait until after Valentine’s Day to get cheaper flowers – y’all played yourself.

Total spent: $8.58

Day six: Saturday

They both had leftover soup for lunch, and afterward, she went to Payless and bought 4 pairs of shoes for $37.54. You read that right, 4 pairs.

He made Mostaccioli with Vodka Sauce for dinner and after, possibly inspired by the Olympics, they went ice skating, which was $18 for admission and skate rental.

Total spent: $55.54

Day seven: Saturday

They made pancakes and eggs for breakfast with everything already stocked in the pantry and fridge.

He spent $25 on drum lessons and then couldn’t resist the sweet, sweet temptation of the steam sale and spent $9.34 on DLC for a game.

They had leftover Mostaccioli pasta for lunch.

She got gas ($25.43) and they went out to dinner for $57.69.

Total spent: $117.46

Total spent: $385.25
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $179.11
Transportation – $44.24
Activities – $43
Shopping – $55.46
Bills – $21.44
Miscellaneous – $42

What we learned:

We always try to keep track of our spending on a spreadsheet, but usually we ignore it and and just wing it. Forcing ourselves to get back into the habit makes us very conscious of our spending.

This week, we made a point to try and only eat leftovers when we could and plan a meal for each day, and it saved us a ton of money. Typically, we’ll go out for food a couple more times on the weekend and during the week as well. This was a pretty cheap week compared to an average one.

The week of the 24th is when most bills get charged (other than rent), so it would be good to do for weeks like that. The biggest thing we have to work on is binge shopping. We’ll do a full month like this then we’ll randomly blow $400 on something we probably don’t need.

Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. Visit the Bank of America Better Money Habits site today.

Need 1:1 guidance on getting your finances in order? Schedule an appointment with a Bank of America specialist today or stop in your local financial center.

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